Greetings from Boulder!

DIA

After an uneventful flight (for which I am profoundly grateful), we arrived at Denver International Airport (DIA) around 7:15 yesterday morning.  M the Younger picked us up and we went to Denver for a few hours since we were going to have to come back to the airport to pick up M the Elder’s sister who arrived 5 hours after us.

Green onions

Having had some time to check things our using the Wi-Fi at the airport, we decided to go to the Cherry Creek shopping district, mainly to check out their farmers market since I volunteered to cook dinner for us that night at M the Younger’s place.

Biscuit Bus

It is a lively market with plenty of people looking for fresh foods.  It was similar to the farmers market held in Boulder, somewhat expensive and mostly organics.  They also have a variety of other booths and tents, from freshly made tamales to wine and artwork.  We left with three bags full of stuff including some of those freshly made tamales to have with our dinner.  (They were delicious!)

We stopped at the Biscuit Bus for a little mid-morning snack.  We had eaten breakfast around 3:00am so it felt more like lunch (or dinner) to us.  The biscuits were yummy.  I sampled some of M the Younger’s grape jelly and bacon biscuit.  It was a peppered bacon which gave it the triple combination of tastes:  sweet, spicy, and salty.

Roasting chilies

After watching the guy above roasting a barrel full of chilies, the enticing aroma drifting through the area, we decided we must have some and bought a bag of ’em to have with those tamales.  With the temperature in the 90s, this poor guy was really sweating it out in his work.

We still had plenty of time before going back to the airport so we took M the Younger, who has been unemployed for a long time, shopping for some much-needed items.  His lovely wife is back in Ohio right now, visiting with her family, so we’ll take her out when she comes back this week.  The good news about M the Younger’s unemployment status is that he finally started work again this past Thursday.  Yay!!

Long's Peak

We eventually made our way back to the airport, picked up M the Elder’s sister, and headed to Boulder to check in to our hotel where we all took much-needed naps.  M the Younger picked us up for dinner which we prepared and ate at his place.  M the Younger and Merdi have a lovely new apartment outside of Boulder.

Today M and I will be renting bikes and (re-)exploring the Boulder bike paths.  C (M the Elder’s sis) will be going on a mountain bike ride with M the Younger since she is the experienced cyclist in the family.  We’ll join up with them later in the day.  It’s possible we’ll fit in a hike somewhere nearby but that depends on the weather.

It is quite warm here (in the 90s yesterday and expected to be the same today) but it is, as they say, a dry heat that isn’t nearly as oppressive as the humid weather we get in the Bogs.  It is also sunny with some lovely clouds rolling in and out.  Storms are expected in the late afternoon which is typical for this time of year.

Flatirons and clouds

The photos are (and will be) straight out of the camera as I haven’t the time or means to edit them.  I am uploading to Photobucket which I hope won’t cause any problems with viewing.  Please pardon any typos.  I’m having to do this on the fly, so to speak, with little time to proof and edit.


Pretty Pickles

Green, which is Nature’s colour, is restful, soothing, cheerful, and health-giving.

~ Paul Brunton

As promised, here is a picture of the pickles.  Aren’t they beautiful?  I think so.  We opened a jar of them yesterday to taste-test them and they are delicious.  Much better than store-bought pickles.

One of the arguments against local shopping is the cost.  I know because I’ve used that argument on more than one occasion.  However, I’ve come to realize that for some things, local shopping is the best way to go either in terms of quality or cost or both.

I’ve purchased many a cheap item from one of the big box stores (that I often refer to as the Evil Empire) and had to replace it not long after buying it.  That’s hardly a good way to save money.  It also equals one more thing (or several more things) taking up space in a landfill.  I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it is best to spend the money up front for a quality item rather than save money now only to have to spend more later.

This time of year is the best time for buying fresh food and putting some away for the winter months.  I’ve heard it said that eating a healthful diet is costly.  Compared to buying a couple of burgers from a 99 cent menu, I suppose it is.  Compared to what you’ll have to spend later on health insurance, maybe not.

When you buy locally grown produce, you also reduce your carbon footprint.  The food doesn’t need to travel nearly as far so what you get is fresher and generally more nutritious.  You can get some great deals at a local farmers market or through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  This also helps support your local economy and local farmers.

(At the Hartville Market)

August 1 – 7 is National Farmers Market Week here in the U.S..  Not sure where to find a local farmers market?  No problem.  Visit Local Harvest, plug in your zip code or city and state, and they’ll find one for you.  Local Harvest is a great website with all kinds of resources for you.

If you can, take the time this week to visit a local farmers market and partake in the bounty of your local harvest.  You might even want to try something new, a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before.  Or just stock up on something you know you like and preserve some for the winter months.  One of the things I love about canning tomatoes is opening up a jar of them in January and immediately noticing the fresh tomato-y aroma that brings back the warmth of summer.

Oh, and that 17 lbs. of broccoli I processed and stored in the freezer?  The cost was $17.00.  One dollar a pound for fresh, delicious, nutritious broccoli is not bad.  Not bad at all.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.  And as a thank you for reading, here is a pretty shot of the moon and clouds taken one morning last week:

(Morning Moon)


How to cap off a day

So, what do you do with yourself after a full and productive day of processing 17 lbs. of freshly picked broccoli?  One would think I’d take myself out to the deck, put my feet up, and enjoy a relaxing evening.  But no, there is no rest for the wicked.  Instead of putting my feet up, I put on my dancing shoes (ok, they were really flip-flops).  M and I went to Akron for some brews, food, a little time and conversation with friends, and a concert at Lock 3.

We started our evening by meeting some friends at 69 Taps.  It was a nice, summery kind of evening.  Not too hot or humid.  Perfect for sitting on the patio.

Normally there is not an empty seat to be found on the patio when the weather is so nice.  I’m not sure where everyone got to.  Perhaps they were already over at Lock 3.  Perhaps they were at the Akron Aeros game.  Summertime brings fewer university students to the Akron bars, too, which makes it kind of nice for us old folks who want to sit on the patio.

We moved over to the Barley House for dinner, then we parted ways with our friends as they headed home and we went to Lock 3 for a little peace, love, and happiness with Buckwheat Zydeco.  (If you’re unfamiliar with Buckwheat Zydeco, check this out.  It’s sure to get you movin’.)

It was nice to see a good crowd there.  We’ve been to a few Lock 3 concerts where not many people showed up (usually due to rainy weather prior to the show).

The show started soon after we arrived.  We brought lawn chairs but didn’t spend much time in them.  You just can’t sit through zydeco music.  I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

It was an energetic show that ended all too soon.  We had a great time.  I can’t remember the last time I danced that much.

In other news…


I see the NaBloPoMo theme for the month of August is GREEN.  In case you didn’t get the newsletter:

Hey, bloggers! The theme for August is GREEN. I hope this will open up some doors for the gardeners, painters, and photographers amongst us, as well as those with other green planetary thoughts to share.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to post every day in August but I’m going to give the theme a try.  Regular visitors to Life in the Bogs know I already covered the subject of Green (green, green grass) in my Color Series over at Bountiful Healing.

Green should be an easy theme, for the most part.  But then again, I thought the same when it came to the “Look Up” theme.  It’s not that it was difficult in and of itself.  It was trying to do different things with it (and stay away from the same-old-same-old cloud shots) that made it challenging.


A rock

(A rock between two hard places.)

Opposition is a natural part of life.  Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition — such as lifting weights — we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.

~ Stephen R. Covey

This is another of the leftover photos from our trip.  It was taken at Freeman’s Run at Austin Dam Memorial Park.

In other news…

I’m off to pick up the broccoli as soon as Hilgert’s market opens (at 8:00am).  The next two days will be all about the blanching and freezing process.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put it all.  Reorganizing the freezer didn’t make as much space as I’d hoped.

We finished up the last packet of last year’s broccoli at dinner last night.  It was a fitting goodbye to the old as we get ready for the new.  And it was delicious served with grilled salmon and potato cakes.

One of the big search terms around here lately is about blanching broccoli.  Or rather, about freezing broccoli without blanching it.  Every year around this time a lot of someones want to shortcut their way to preserving the broccoli harvest.  I would not recommend it.  The blanching process retards the activity of enzymes that cause the vegetable to become tough as well as lose its flavor and nutrients.  I realize it would be easier and less time consuming to cut up the broccoli, throw it in a bag and into the freezer.  Blanching takes time and work.  It’s worth every moment of it when January rolls around and you taste the almost-fresh flavors of the broccoli picked in August.


Park Bench

Park Bench

This photo was taken at the Austin Dam Memorial Park.  I like the perspective.  The tree, which really wasn’t very big, looks big because of the angle while the wall of the dam, which was huge, looks small.  And the park bench looks tiny in comparison to everything else.  This one looks better in the larger version so be sure to click on it to take it all in.

Here is a different perspective on the bench:

Life is going to be keeping me busy for a while.  I got a call this morning that the broccoli at Hilgert’s Farm has been picked and that means blanching and freezing 17 lbs. of the lovely stuff.  I’m pretty certain Hilgert’s has the best broccoli on earth, especially when it is freshly picked.

Once the broccoli is in, it’s one thing after another from now until November.  I just hope I have the freezer space for all the things I plan to freeze.  The beans I did a few weeks ago are taking up lots of room.


Road Trip!

(Church steeple along PA State Route 66 in Lucinda, Pennsylvania)

This time of year is so busy for us that it is tough keeping up.  It’s especially difficult to do when we spend the weekend in a cabin in the woods and in the mountains where there is no cell phone coverage, no television reception, and no internet service.  It was wonderful and felt great to be disconnected for a little while.  One of the things I liked about the disconnect was not knowing about weather watches and warnings, in particular a tornado watch.  Without the information, we watched the rain and lightning and listened to the thunder and wind without panic or worry.  Life, for me, is better that way.  If I’m destined to die in a tornado or other weather-related event, I think I’d rather not know about it.  Instead, let me enjoy the moments leading up to it, including the show that the storm brings with it.

For those wondering about Saturday’s blog post, I scheduled it before we left.  That’s one of the beauties of WordPress.

Before I start rambling about our weekend trip, I want to say a big THANK YOU to Cismonok, aka The Pickle Lady, for pickling all those cucumbers.  Everything looks great and I was happy to see that there were no vampires anywhere near the kitchen garbage.

For those inquiring minds that might want to know what that message is all about (and it obviously isn’t too private):  The Gherkin Gods spoke on Thursday afternoon.  I got a call from Hilgert’s that they had 2/3 (or possibly more) of a bushel of small cucumbers picked just for me and The Pickle Lady.  The Pickle Lady makes some fabuloso pickles with those little cukes and I wanted to learn how she does it so we got together and ordered a couple of pecks.  Apparently the small cukes are a pain to pick (or maybe to sell).  The good folks at Hilgert’s were willing to do this for us.  A big THANK YOU to them as well.

This past weekend was not a particularly good weekend for The Pickle Lady or for me but we have no choice other than to accommodate the demands of the Gherkin Gods.  While in the midst of getting the house and self ready for a road trip and a meet-up with old friends, the call came in and I ended up spending a good five hours or so cleaning those little buggers.  I didn’t realize the clean-up of small cucumbers would be so, well, cumbersome.

My friend The Pickle Lady came by after we left and processed the cukes and we now have (split between us in an uneven manner) over 20 quarts of pickles.  She said the pickling and canning process is easier than the cleaning process.  I’ll have to take her word for it.  But I’m happy it’s done and that the Weather Gods didn’t decide to knock out the power before the pickling could be done.  Storms moved through after we left and sometime during the pickling process.

As soon as I feel up to posing those beautiful jars of pickles, I’ll post a photo.  In a surprising move for me, I didn’t take any photos of all the little gherkins when I had them floating in water, either to be washed or on ice while waiting to be pickled.  That’s a good indication of how rushed I was feeling at the time.  Usually the camera goes everywhere and records everything.  The cucumbers were a beautiful shade of green sitting in their bucket of ice water after all the washing was completed.  They would have made a pretty picture.  You’ll have to take my word for it.

(Through a rainy windshield on the way home today.)

The weekend was great fun and I want to tell you all about it but it’s getting late, I’m tired, and something must be done about dinner soon.  We haven’t eaten since breakfast so we’re both pretty hungry.

I will tell you that the weekend was hot and steamy, weatherwise.  It was also great fun.  If all goes well tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about it.  Or partly about it.  It might require more than one post.

In addition to no phone, no ‘net, and no TV, there was also no air conditioning.  I’m afraid I didn’t feel as at peace with that lack of technology as I did with the rest.  This past weekend brought a pretty brutal heatwave to the northeastern part of the U.S. and it was hot, humid, and physically miserable when you’re without a means of cooling off.  It’s all about the mindset, though.  We were with good friends and having a good time so the wilting in the heat and humidity was merely a small part of the big and better package.

Except for the first photo (which was the first photo I took on our trip), I’m working backwards by giving you some pictures taken today, on our way home.  The heavy rains that we encountered are, I think, part of a front that is going to give us some slightly (80’s) cooler and drier weather.

Side note:  I did a quick check at weather.com just now and instead of looking at what’s currently going on and what’s to come, I found myself clicking on “Tonight’s Beauty Forecast.”  WTH???  Beauty Forecast???  Are we that ridiculously vain that we need a special forecast?  For those that are, you should know that tonight’s check list includes lip balm (because it isn’t humid enough?), UV protection (in case moonlight is too much for you), and a light jacket.  I would not need the light jacket.  Tonight’s low of 60 degrees sounds heavenly after a weekend of not being able to cool off because the humidity was so high that sweat does not evaporate.  I suppose that statement explains my lacks of enthusiasm for the Beauty Forecast.   Comfort is more important to me than whether or not I need lip balm.

(Traveling through the storm)

There is also a Frizz Alert (frizz likely), but you’ll be happy to know dry skin is unlikely.  I’m guessing (but could be wrong) that the folks who think we NEED a Beauty Forecast think we’re too stupid too figure out that high humidity equals frizzy/curly hair and moist skin.

(Trying to see the road through the heavy rain)

That was a heck of digression.  It was my first visit to TWC since they went into their new (Beta) version.  I will explore more later, when I can devote a whole blog post to the subject.  Maybe in the winter.  I’ll have more time then since I won’t be dealing with frizz alerts and the possibility of oily skin due to high heat and humidity.  More likely it will be static alerts (when the hair goes straight, stands up and crackles) and extreme dry skin problems due to lack of humidity.

(Fungi –What happens to dry skin in high humidity)

I’m getting silly now, a sure sign that I need to move away from the computer, sit out on the back porch or deck, and watch the sun as it makes its way below the tree line.

I’ll leave you with something pretty that I found along the way on our trip.


Beaned

I am happy to report that after 2-1/2 days of kitchen duty, I now have 20 quarts of yellow beans tucked away in the freezer.  I may have to give some away.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to buy a bushel of the yellow (wax) beans.  Next year I think I’ll get a peck of each type of bean they grow at Hilgert’s.  There are three varieties of green beans to be found at Hilgert’s (this year, at least):  Kentucky Wonders, Bluelake, and Italian.  A peck of each plus a peck of the yellow will give me 20 quarts of a variety of beans.

I did blanch and freeze some of the green beans (the Kentucky Wonders and the Italian).  I have 8 quarts of those.  All in all, that’s a lot of beans!  (Does all this counting of quarts of beans make me a bean counter??)

The food is so pretty this time of year.

Everything is so colorful and delicious.

All you need to do is add a few grains and you have the beginnings of a great meal.

In other food adventure news…

Today I  finally got back to my cookbook adventures.  I may have to rename that as I made something that a friend suggested.  I did not follow a recipe, just (some of) her suggestions.  I stir-fried some of the fresh yellow beans that I put aside just for that purpose, having picked out nice, slender, tender beans.  I added some other veggies I picked up at the Hartville Market yesterday (peppers, candy hybrid onions, carrots, green onions, and zucchini) and then flavored it all with black bean sauce and some chili garlic sauce for heat.

We had it over rice noodles.  Delicious, nutritious, and quite satisfying for our “big” Sunday afternoon meal.